2017 Buick Encore

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
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Key Specs

of the 2017 Buick Encore. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Goodbye, portholes
  • Small size makes it city friendly
  • Seating position offers great visibility
  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay standard
  • Front passenger seat folds down for longer cargo
  • Good headroom

The Bad

  • Performance from either engine
  • Stop-start system not smooth
  • Front seats uncomfortable, lack support
  • Expensive despite lacking premium features
  • No armrest for front passenger
  • Backseat legroom is tight

Notable Features of the 2017 Buick Encore

  • Refreshed for 2017
  • 8-inch touchscreen standard
  • Front- or all-wheel drive
  • Two turbocharged four-cylinder engines
  • New exterior and interior styling
  • Available active safety features

2017 Buick Encore Road Test

Brian Wong
Versus The Competition:

The Encore is neither nice enough to be considered a luxury SUV nor affordable enough to hang with cheaper competitors that offer many of the same features.

When it debuted as a 2013 model, the Buick Encore was unique in both shape and stature. It was the only vehicle to offer the higher ride height of an SUV, but with a much smaller footprint. The Encore is only 168.4 inches long, shorter than a Honda Civic sedan by more than a foot. That makes the diminutive Encore suitable for cities and other environments where big vehicles simply don't fit in.

Being first had its benefits: The Encore is Buick's best-selling model, and its success compelled GM to offer a more budget-friendly version in 2015, the Chevrolet Trax. Fast-forward a few years, though, and the Encore is far from being the only small SUV on the market. Subcompact SUVs have proliferated, and now the Encore competes against other tiny utes such as the Honda HR-V and Fiat 500X. Compare the Encore with those vehicles and the Trax here.

The Buick Encore is sold in six trim levels (base, Preferred, Sport Touring, Preferred II, Essence and Premium). Our test vehicle was a front-wheel-drive Premium model, which started at $31,390 (including destination charges) but piled on a few options to bump the final price up to $34,075 — a lofty figure that gave me pause.

2017 Changes

Mounting competition motivated Buick to update the Encore, and for 2017 it's received refreshed styling inside and out, as well as new in-cabin technology. Compare the 2017 Encore with last year's model here.

The exterior keeps the same high-walled proportions and adds a new g...

When it debuted as a 2013 model, the Buick Encore was unique in both shape and stature. It was the only vehicle to offer the higher ride height of an SUV, but with a much smaller footprint. The Encore is only 168.4 inches long, shorter than a Honda Civic sedan by more than a foot. That makes the diminutive Encore suitable for cities and other environments where big vehicles simply don't fit in.

Being first had its benefits: The Encore is Buick's best-selling model, and its success compelled GM to offer a more budget-friendly version in 2015, the Chevrolet Trax. Fast-forward a few years, though, and the Encore is far from being the only small SUV on the market. Subcompact SUVs have proliferated, and now the Encore competes against other tiny utes such as the Honda HR-V and Fiat 500X. Compare the Encore with those vehicles and the Trax here.

The Buick Encore is sold in six trim levels (base, Preferred, Sport Touring, Preferred II, Essence and Premium). Our test vehicle was a front-wheel-drive Premium model, which started at $31,390 (including destination charges) but piled on a few options to bump the final price up to $34,075 — a lofty figure that gave me pause.

2017 Changes

Mounting competition motivated Buick to update the Encore, and for 2017 it's received refreshed styling inside and out, as well as new in-cabin technology. Compare the 2017 Encore with last year's model here.

The exterior keeps the same high-walled proportions and adds a new grille, LED headlights on higher trim levels and new designs for the 18-inch alloy wheels (except on the Sport Touring). But the biggest change is one of omission: There are no more portholes atop the hood — Buick's signature design feature for many years (after decades without). The changes modernize the Encore's exterior, but it's still more noticeable for its shape than anything else.

Move inside, however, and the changes are less cosmetic and more substantive.

Interior and Technology

Inside, the dashboard has been face-lifted to make way for a newly standard 8-inch touchscreen and the latest version of Buick's Intellilink multimedia system. Not only is the screen larger, it's also better ergonomically because it's moved down and closer to occupants, making it easier to reach. Also added for 2017: Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which are standard and a welcome addition.

This redesigned dashboard isn't without compromise, however; the second, upper glove box is gone, diminishing storage up front. And the interior updates haven't addressed some of the problems that keep the Encore from being a true luxury SUV offering.

To start with, there's no large center console storage bin to serve as an armrest, and only the driver's seat has a swing-down inboard armrest. On short trips this doesn't really matter, but on longer jaunts the empty space is awkward and uncomfortable.

Additionally, what felt like a metal bar in the lower portion of the seatback caused discomfort, not only for myself but for front passengers as well. It didn't help matters that I took the Encore on a 700-mile trip up and down California — a lot of miles to feel like someone is prodding you in the lumbar region (albeit gently).

Sport Sort-of-Utility Vehicle

Because the new Buick Encore is such a small SUV, the "utility" part of the acronym is compromised. Cargo room behind the backseat is 18.8 cubic feet, expanding to 48.4 cubic feet with the backseat folded. Though 18.8 cubic feet isn't terribly far from what the competing Honda HR-V subcompact provides (24.3 cubic feet), the Encore's base price is closer to that of Honda's compact CR-V, which boasts more than twice as much cargo volume as the Encore, at 39.2 cubic feet.

Folding the rear seats is a two-step process: flip the bottom cushion forward then lower the seatback. The process is easy enough when lowering the seats, but putting them back up is a problem, as there's nothing to hold the seat belt buckles in place. The bottom cushions flip back on top of all the buckles; you have to make sure to dig them up before clicking the cushion back into place, which is frustrating.

How It Drives

The Buick Encore offers two turbocharged, 1.4-liter four-cylinder engines. The base engine produces 138 horsepower and 148 pounds-feet of torque, but our test vehicle came with the more powerful version, which makes 153 hp and 177 pounds-feet of torque and adds stop-start technology for better fuel economy. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional.

Even with the bump up to the more powerful engine, the Encore felt sluggish. True, no one is buying the Encore for its performance, but its copious body roll and numb steering mean driving the Encore is equal parts yawn-inducing and sloppy.

Despite its added power, the optional engine does improve fuel economy, from 25/33/28 mpg city/highway/combined to 27/33/30 mpg for front-wheel-drive models. Against the competition, these figures are right down the middle; the combined figure matches the Honda HR-V and Fiat 500X.

But that city-friendly stop-start system is intrusive. The best of these systems are quiet and don't interrupt the driving process. In the Encore, there's a discernible pause for the engine to start up from a stop. I found myself turning the system off frequently during testing.

Missing Value

For kicks and giggles, I tried to configure a Chevrolet Trax with many of the same features found on my Buick Encore SUV test vehicle. The Trax comes only with the Encore's base engine, and top trims feature leatherette instead of genuine leather upholstery, plus a slightly smaller media screen, but it otherwise matches up almost evenly when it comes to features — for nearly $6,000 less than the Encore. The Trax (also with FWD) will run you $28,190 for a vehicle of the same size and many of the same features.

And therein lies the rub. The Buick Encore isn't nice enough inside and has too many quirky annoyances to be considered a luxury vehicle (that missing armrest really bothers me), and its benefits can be replicated at lower prices thanks to an influx of compact SUVs. The Encore needs to make its next evolution before it comes back out on stage again.

Cars.com's Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com's long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don't accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com's advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.


2017 Encore Video

The tiny Buick Encore has ridden a wave of small-SUV popularity to become Buick's best-selling model. Buick aims to keep that going with updated styling and new features. Check out the 2017 Encore at the 2016 New York International Auto Show.

Latest 2017 Encore Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.9)
Performance
(4.6)
Interior Design
(4.7)
Comfort
(4.7)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.7)

What Drivers Are Saying

(1.0)

Rebuilt engine and new brakes required 11,000 mile

by Colleen from Lake Oswego on September 11, 2018

Gravely disappointed in the Buick Encore. In for repairs twice in the last month. First time rebuilt engine and replaced rear brakes, two weeks later, replaced rear brakes again. Went back to the ... Read full review

(5.0)

So far, so good.

by Sassy_Shirl from Highland, IL on July 12, 2018

This is the first SUV I've owned and I love it! The smaller size makes it easy for me to zip in and out of parking spaces and it is easy to handle. I've taken it on road trips and it performed very ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2017 Buick Encore currently has 2 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2017 Buick Encore Base

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Child Seat Anchors (Latch)

Ease of Use
acceptable

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Small Overlap Front - Driver Side

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/Thigh
good
Lower Leg/Foot
good
Overall Evaluation
good
Restraints and Dummy Kinematics
good
Structure and Safety Cage
acceptable
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranties

Backed by Buick
New Car Program Benefits
  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    72 months / 70,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    72 months / 70,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits
  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    5 model years or newer/up to 75,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    12 months/12,000 miles bumper-to-bumper original warranty, then may continue to 6 years/100,000 miles limited (depending on variables)

  • Powertrain warranty

    6 years/100,000 miles

  • Dealer Certification Required

    172-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All Program Details

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Encore received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker